AFTER seeking to “clean up” the system, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) is on the back foot as the Bombay High Court has directed it to allow contractors, whom it sought to blacklist, to form consortium and participate in the tender process. However, in a relief to the PCMC, the court has told the civic body that it can prohibit contractors who had not deposited the Provident Fund (PF) amount of their workers with the government and have not been paying the workers as per the Minimum Wages Act.
Standing Committee Chairperson Seema Savale told this paper on Tuesday that the court issued the directions on September 28 and the PCMC will abide by it.
The contractors versus PCMC battle has been going on since Savale took charge of the standing committee as its chairperson four months ago. Savale had withheld the bills of contractors who had not deposited the PF and Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) amount of their workers with the government and were not paying wages as per the Minimum Wages Act. Savale had also sought to prevent the defaulting contractors from participating in the tender process which would bring them work in the future.
Civic officials said the court’s order was being viewed as a setback as well as having upheld the PCMC’s decision to debar defaulting contractors from tender work. However, Savale said the court’s order was in keeping with the action taken by the committee. “The court’s order for allowing the formation of consortium is because we had amended the norms and made it mandatory for contractors to have certain financial capability. This was to ensure that the contractors are in a position to pay their workers in case they do not get their payment from the civic body for some reason,” said Savale.
Similarly, Savale said, the court has upheld their decision to prohibit contractors who have defaulted on PF, ESI and minimum wages front. “There are at least 67 such contractors. At least 40-50 per cent of them are suspected to be defaulters. We are currently in the process of finding out the exact number of defaulters,” she said. The committee chief said that though the PF amount had to be deposited before 15th of every month, it was noticed that the amount was not deposited for months and was misused by the contractors.
Sarang Kamtekar, general secretary of the ruling BJP, said, “It has been found that some contractors were taking advantage of the government norm that unemployed youth should be give work like sweeping the city areas or clean nullahs. However, it has been found that the same contractors for over 10-15 years are claiming the contract under the guise that they were unemployed. This was flagrant violation of the norms,” he said.
Civic officials said that since the defaulting contractors are given cleanliness job, currently the work, especially door-to-door collection of garbage, has been affected. Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar told this paper last week that once this issue is sorted out, the Swachh Bharat mission will be implemented more aggressively in the next three months when Pimpri-Chinchwad will turn over a new leaf on the cleanliness front.